HARP: About Seed

30 October

Seed is a strand of the HARP programme, focused on research and development. Find out more about what we are looking for in this strand and how to apply. 

In the face of Covid-19 we know new ideas and approaches in arts and health are now needed.

In partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the HARP Seed (research and development) programme is about collaborating to generate - or ‘seed’ - those initial great ideas and innovate at pace. 


  • Are you an artist or arts organisation in Wales who wants to work with new health places and adapt your practice around Covid-19?
  • Do you want to bring your creativity and experience to a particular challenge around any of the following areas at present:
    • supporting the health and care workforce; 
    • building the resilience of people with mental or physical health challenges; and/or
    • improving the health of marginalised, underrepresented or at-risk groups of people
  • Are you committed to learning and finding new solutions in partnership with others?


If so, the HARP Seed programme could be for you.

What is the HARP Seed programme?

HARP - Health, Arts, Research, People - is an innovation partnership between Arts Council of Wales and Y Lab (Cardiff University & Nesta), to explore how we can generate, grow and learn about impactful creative innovations that support the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales.

Responding to the needs arising out of the pandemic, and recognising that innovation is taking place throughout the sector at the moment, we are aiming to learn more about:

  • How the arts can help health and care systems with their biggest challenges during Covid-19, particularly those listed above.
  • How to develop high quality, Covid-safe arts activities for peoples’ health and wellbeing that promote equality, diversity and inclusion
  • How impactful arts innovations within health and care settings can grow and survive longer term

We have worked with health organisations to identify four challenges that matter to them at the moment.  They are now looking for artists and arts organisations to work with to generate and develop new creative ideas to help them meet their challenges.

Who are the health organisations, and what are their challenges for HARP Seed?

Click here to find out more

  • Health Education and Improvement Wales: Telling the story of Black healthcare workers during the pandemic 
  • Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board: bringing creativity to the hospital ‘recharge’ spaces for staff 
  • New Pathways: building the resilience of rape and sexual abuse survivors across Wales
  • Denbighshire County Council: Supporting front-line care staff across Denbighshire county to manage the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic

What’s involved in participating in the HARP Seed programme?

Between Jan and Apr/May 2021, we will support small teams of people from across arts, health and social care organisations to come together in teams to design and test new creative activities that meet the health system challenges identified above.  We anticipate there will be 3-4 core people on each team - artists or arts organisations and health and care workers, supported by a leader or sponsor in the relevant health/care setting, experts with lived experience and the HARP team.

For artists and arts organisations, this is a bit different from the usual ‘commissioning’ process. Rather you will be involved in the development and design of the ideas, in partnership with the health place, right from the very inception of the project. Your role is to bring creative ideas and perspectives to the development of new arts and health activities; there may also be a separate opportunity to deliver those activities later on.

There will be 4-5 teams in total, each one focusing on a different health challenge / cohort.  Once formed, each team will come together on a regular basis through webinars and meetings, supported by a HARP Challenge Coach and the Y Lab Research Fellow.  At these sessions we will take you through a design process of setting goals, mapping access points and assets, before designing, testing and evaluating new creative activities to meet your goals.  This builds on the work of the recent HARP Sprint and will be facilitated in partnership with Nesta’s People Powered Results team, who focus on structured innovation programmes that support inclusive, collaborative and rapid change within complex systems such as healthcare.

What’s the time commitment?

Participating teams will need to commit to 1 hour webinars with the HARP team, every 1-2 weeks for around 3 months, with longer introductory and wrap-up sessions. We anticipate that much of the work will then take place independently in your teams outside these sessions.  For more information about how this might work, and some testimonials, please take a look at our recent HARP Sprint project, and/or do get in touch with us at [email protected]

Since this programme is also a research project, we will work with all projects to observe and measure the outcomes and impact of the programme, both on participants and organisations.

What are the benefits for me and our organisation?

Ultimately, the opportunity to develop new work, with new health partners, and have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing through creativity.  We know that collaborative innovation leads to better ideas, so the safe and supportive space of the programme will allow you to approach your challenge by drawing on skills, knowledge and networks from across all the Seed teams to get the very best outcome for your organisation and your cohort. In the webinars, facilitated by the HARP team, you will take part in creative and engaging activities that will help you tackle your challenge, and you will also be assigned a HARP Coach to keep in touch with your progress and be a sounding board for ideas and challenges.



Who can apply?

Arts places: artists (including freelancers) and arts organisations.

We believe there is strength in diversity, so we are looking for a range of projects, and a diverse team of people to take part. All teams will be expected to address equity, diversity and inclusion in their programmes.


What’s the application process?

  1. Applications for health places are now closed, as we are now inviting artists and arts organisations to read and respond to the five health challenges listed above.


  1. If you would like to apply to be the arts partner on one of the health challenge teams, please review the health challenges and your interest by filling in this application form by 11am on 18 January 2021 (extended from 11th January). 


  1. We will review all applications, then invite shortlisted health and arts places to attend a Sandpit event in late Jan or early Feb 2021. Here we will facilitate a ‘matchmaking’ process based on mutual interests and complementary skills, before the teams are fully selected after the Sandpit event.


Weekly webinars to begin the design process with teams will start in Feb 2021.



Grants of £3,000 are available to artist and arts organisations who are selected to join a challenge team after the Sandpit event, as well as additional seed funding for health places to commission artists and test ideas once they are developed.  

Shortlisted artists or arts organisations that are invited to the Sandpit event are not guaranteed a place on a challenge team, however we will offer them a payment of £125 (equivalent to 0.5 days at Arts Council of Wales day rates) to attend the event.

I have a question

We’re here to answer questions. Please get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected]

I have a question 

We encourage you to take a look at the FAQs page and we are here to answer questions and help you explore how your idea or challenge fits with the HARP Programme. Please get in touch with the team by emailing [email protected] 

HARP is delivered by Y Lab, in partnership with Arts Council of Wales, the Wales Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network, the Welsh NHS Confederation and Nesta’s People Powered Results team.

Main Image: Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Image shows three lottery funding logos for Arts Council Wales, National Lottery and Welsh Government